Plus say hi to TEQSA Tony and Curtin’s Open Day of the Day

But what does she really think?

“Yes, all professions eat their own young. But teacher education in Australia has become a zombie discipline. ‘Experts’ who hold no proficiency in teaching and learning, but are offering a view because they attended school at some point, are eating its brains. These ‘experts’ are instructing universities – holders of self accrediting authority – about the necessity to return to the ‘basics.’ ” Tara Brabazon, head of the School of Teacher Education at Charles Sturt Uyesterday.

CEF August A

Working on employment

Jeff Borland from the University of Melbourne was on ABC Sydney radio yesterday, talking about graduate unemployment. It was a sensible discussion, as were the listener calls that followed, focused on underemployment and HECs debts, dumbed-down degrees, the need for transferable skills rather than subject knowledge and the job-hunt grind. Twas ever thus but it will be more so as the number of graduates increases due to the demand driven system. Universities are going to be increasingly judged on graduate employment, which is why smart ones, like Macquarie U are planning to embed job-ready competencies and industry placements in courses (CMM April 7).

Duelling dope

Just week’s after the University of Sydney announced a $34m million donation to fund cannabinoid medical research neighbouring University of New South Wales is reporting the first cannabis trial for terminal cancer patients. There’s going to be quite a bit of this.

The really big picture

The estimable National Centre for Vocational Education and Research has an anthology of recent research here . The papers are all worth reading, especially Francesca Beddie’s major 2014 assessment of the state of training and proposals for a new post school VET structure. This merited much more attention than it received. getting lost in the deregulated student fees debate, which is but a subset of the issues she discussed.


Questions and correct answers

The NCVER is also inviting questions for the 2015 cohort of the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth. The centre is already interested in digital literacy, employment flexibility and foundation skills. This is a great chance for university lobbies to ask why young people think their members are great but CMM suspects NCVER will not have it. Proposals are due on Friday.

Who’s big on bebop?

Scientists at Cambridge and Stamford have established a relationship between cognitive styles (as distinct from age, gender, personality and so on) and musical taste (Plos One). People who are empathic like R&B and (shudder) soft rock, while those who are open to new experiences like jazz. What puzzled CMM is how they found enough bebop lovers to form a statistically significant sample.

Fertile fields

Australian agriculture is close to peak productivity and further growth requires breakthroughs in pure and applied research, according to the Australia’s Agriculture Future  report for the Australian Council of Learned Academies. So good for the “highly regarded” rural research and development corporations, without which the impact of declining public expenditure would be worse. The Cooperative Research Centre programme has also helped, supporting “a generation of researchers to remain active in agricultural research.” But to deal with changing circumstances, notably climate change, you guessed it, more research is needed.



The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency new CEO is career-long university administrator and regulator Anthony McClaran, head of the UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education since 2009. When he took that job he did media and if he wants to do that here CMM’s hand is up.

As far as his tweets are an indication Mr McClaran should fit right in at very serious TEQSA. His latest tweet is, “the subject benchmark statement for master’s degrees in business and management is available.” And that’s his personal account!

You reckon everybody will call him TEQSA Tony? No, CMM doesn’t either. (Nick Saunders continues as chief commissioner.)

Lonely at the chalkface

The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership reports 71 per cent of school principals are over 50 and that there is already anecdotal evidence of a shortage, with school leaders not thinking running a school is much fun. Part of the answer, AITSL, asserts is training for the task. But there are only ten principal prep programs in the country and they “have a small reach and do not represent a coordinated and strategic approach to the ongoing, systematic and effective preparation of school leaders for our nation.” This surprises CMM; with universities pumping out teaching graduates, has it occurred to nobody to offer courses for the people who will lead them? It seems not, with Charles Darwin University being the only university offering a programme, although all ten are accredited by various institutions, notably Monash, U Tasmania, Australian Catholic University (three), Notre Dame (Freemantle), UNSW, QUT and CSU.

Open day of the day

Is Curtin (on Sunday),which has an Open Day APP and a website that gives people a great idea of what’s on offer, which is a bunch, people worked really hard to pull it all together. Sadly, there are no drones – but there are robots, which are nearly as good.

mindhive 2

Why ASQA (quietly) asserted itself

Back in June the Australian Skills Quality Authority responded to suggestions that when it comes to maintaining VET standards it would fail a Cert I on governance. “ASQA rejects any conclusion that it has not acted to investigate and take appropriate action in relation to concerns regarding the quality of vocational training and assessment.” In particular ASQA rejected comparisons with the Victorian state regulator, which cancelled qualifications issued to individuals by registered training providers owned by private provider Vocation. The national agency pointed out that while the Victorian agency had the power to do this, it didn’t. “Cancellation is a specific response to particular circumstances and, if based on a concern that an individual’s actual competencies do not meet the certified competencies awarded to the individual, this would be preceded by an individual reassessment of the person’s actual competencies,” ASQA argued.

Yes CMM knows it is a while back but as a competency complete reader points out, this obscure statement makes the case that the federal system has avoided the Victorian over-reaction to the mess there caused by the state’s first deregulation model. It’s a bit steep to cancel an individual’s qualification without assessing them, just because the provider was not considered up to scratch. And it adds to the case for Victoria switching to the federal regulator, an idea floated in the McKenzie-Coulson review’s issues paper on Victorian VET funding, “for simplicity and consistency purposes.”

This is a bigger deal than it looks. A solid ASQA is going to be essential to Training Minister Simon Birmingham’s case that private providers should be able to compete for students as Labor and the public education lobby argue TAFE should get a dominant share of training places.